Day 1 & 2 – Bangkok
26/ 03/ 15
Once we arrived we got a taxi to the hotel, Loft 77 is a really pleasant hotel! The room is massive! Almost like a studio flat.
I went to eat some local street food in Thonglo, I was a little disappointed in the size of the food market but we found a really nice place to eat. We had a bowl of beef soup with noodles to share, I had a green mango salad too. The soup was amazing, the stock was the bomb. My mango salad was a tasty sour sweet but it was so unbelievable spicy. I had to wash it all down with some iced thai tea.
We then moved to a different stall and I had some fresh mango with coconut milk sticky rice. It was so good I ordered extra mango. yum yum…
Up early tomorrow to finally get to Burma, so we took a motorbike taxi back to the hotel. I was a bit weary as there was a lot of traffic and we had no helmets, but thought why not and jumped on. There were some serious moments when I thought my knee was going to clip a car and then we’d all fall off, but luckily that never happened.
Day 3 – Mandalay
We set off early to get to the airport. The cabbie tried to rip us off but we agreed we would pay the fare as well as the highway fees. Getting on the flight was seamless and we arrived in two hours. First thought when we left the airport is ‘Myanmar is HOT’
Our first stop on the tour of Myanmar was Mandalay, here we saw local markets selling fresh fruit and other useful produce.
We hired a motorbike taxi to see the Royal Palace which was run down by our Western standard, but it is still a pretty site with obvious history. Then headed up to Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset, and on the way stop off at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shrine Nandaw Kyaung and Atu Mashi Monastery.
Streets of Mandalay
First impression of the people of Myanmar is really positive, they’re really lovely people. I found that the women wearing the traditional conservative longji skirt and tshirt were very beautiful. It makes a nice change to see women embracing their traditional dress. The men as well wear their version of the longji, we found was a mix of tradition and also comfort. Apparently in Yangon men don’t wear them as much.
Day 4 Mandalay – Bagan cruise
Sunday 29 / 03/ 15
I had booked us onto the Paukan Cruise, and we set off early to catch the boat to Bagan.
Our boat the Irrawaddy Princess 2
To begin with there were only 6 of us on board, and we met our guide Kay who was really lovely and had very good English.
Unfortunately the river was too low for us to sail upstream so we had to park up and get a bus to the pagodas. As consolation we had an open bar for the day so I had a cocktail and a few fruit juices.
We visited Mingun Pagoda where there is the largest ringable bell in the world, a nunnery where we gained an insight to the nun’s lives, and then to Sagaing temple to watch the sunset.
Migun Pagoda Bell
That evening we watched a traditional puppet and dance show on board the boat, which was quite impressive. At the end I couldn’t resist the invitation to get up and dance along with them. It was pretty simple steps but I enjoyed it a lot. We then enjoyed some drinks and had a nice chat with the group.
Day 5 Mandalay to Bagan Cruise
On the second day of the cruise, we had a free morning where we could simply watch the local villages on the shore.
Our only stop was at the Pottery Village, and we disembarked to wander around and learn more about the pot making. It was a really lovely insight to the local life and how they make their living.
We then headed back onto the boat where we sailed off again, and the evening concluded with dinner and star gazing.
Day 6 Bagan
We arrived in Bagan at 9am and jumped into a taxi, the driver Sein told us he can drive us around Bagan and take us to the main temples.
I didn’t get the names of every temple we visited. One of the large ones was Htilo Minlo and we drove around and saw many other pagodas and temples. In the morning we were able to climb up a pagoda to look at the view. As you have to take your shoes off to do this, in the afternoon it’s really painful!
Htilominlo in the distance
We went to Thatbyinngu Phayas which had alfresco paintings that dated back to the 11th century.
Al fresco paintings on the wall
At another temple we were greeted by a group of children who all had very good English. They were very sweet and they played a game with us.
In Bagan it’s a great idea to find accommodation with a pool, having a dip in the evening was so refreshing!
There was a strip of restaurants nearby, I ordered too much food and it didn’t taste too great..
Day 7 Bagan
We were picked up early for the hot air balloon with Oriental Balloon tour. We shot up high really quickly just in time to see the sunrise over the view of the temples. We landed on a sandbank, and had to get a boat back to Bagan. The views were incredible and well worth the price.
Amazing view from the balloon
For the rest of the day we hired ebikes which are small electric mototrbikes. They’re really uncomfortable and driving it was a little scary, but manageable. While driving round all the temples there’s areas where the path is covered by sand, and that’s when I kept losing control of the bike!
We first headed up to the market, and then down to old Bagan. There were lots of beautiful views and better restoration, stopped off at a cafe for refreshments, and then continued down the road through old Bagan to the Village. We watched the sun set and went to the best temple for viewing it. It was really packed and had some really steep steps.
Day 8 Bagan
Got the taxi driver who we used on the first day in Bagan to drive me to Mount Popa.
Afterwards, I went back to the hotel and sat by the pool to cool off. We hired a scooter again to drive to the riverside restaurant in new Bagan.
It was really windy and had a lot of dust blown into our food and they suffered a power cut.
Day 9 Thandwe
Left Bagan and got on a flight to Thandwe. It was really weird as it was a tiny plane and we had a stop over at He Ho first like a shuttle bus.. We had to stay on and an hour later we arrived in Thandwe, the plane continued it’s journey to Yangon.
When we got to the airport, it was all very strict and our hotel rep handled our passports for us. As we were within a restricted zone, they wanted to make sure that people who came in would definitely go out. We all boarded a funny wooden bus with no windows to take us to the hotel. It was a really pretty hotel and a large complex. I went straight to the beach, it had nice waves and a rock pool area, perfect! I went for a swim but I generally rested up.
Sunset at the beach
Day 10 Thandwe
Again it was a lazy day, but I hired a paddle board which I found really fun on the waves as it was more of a challenge fighting not to fall off and face the current. That evening I had the most amazing coconut fish curry on the beach, it was served in a coconut which you scrape the coconut out from the inside and eat with coconut rice.
Day 11 Thandwe
I decided to go out on a rubber ring and ended up burning my back and butt… be careful out there!
One of the people I met who was staying on the beach invited us to the mountatins. We hopped into a 4×4 jeep and headed off, there were no seatbelts and there was some crazy roads. We were taken to a locals house, and passed lots of empty rice fields which were empty due to a new international runway being built. The house was up and down steep roads. Next to the house there is a prawn farm where the locals fish or swim. The house itself is very basic, and we sat out on the deck shooting some air rifle, I’m pretty good and everyone’s impressed.
We are given some tea, the hot water is poured by mistake but a red cockraoch comes out in the water so we don’t drink that cup. My tea is poured and there’s a ton of ants in it. I’m prissy and want a new tea.
We moved on from the house and drove past villages with amazing large houses on stilts and passing the expensive £500 a night hotels. Again the roads are really bumpy, and there are funny music videos playing in the car, we struggle up some seriously steep hills. Once we reach the top of the mountain there’s an amazing panoramic view of the beach and the jungle, really beautiful.
We watch the sun go down and then dirve to an unknown road to hit the empty beach. Turns out it lead to a private fenced off land, which we climb over to paddle n the sea. The locals don’t like to swim in this part of the sea as the current is too strong. I really love that we’re the only ones on the beach.
That evening I had a really good tiger prawn curry and some banana tempura.
Day 12 Thandwe
We get up early as we have arranged a boat trip which takes us to a nearby island for snokelling. I saw so many fish, a large rainbow and parrot fish, lots of schools.
On board, I’m told there was a panic and our two boat guys told us to get out of the water. I didn’t hear any warning, which would have been nice! They had apparently seen a rather large fish, one which may or may not have posed a problem to our safety. The two guys got their spear and tried to hunt it down!
We then sailed off around the island and into the fishing port. It stank and you didn’t even need to see the boat to know it was a fishing port. There were big and small boats, boxes and nets. It was beautiful though but I’m glad we didn’t get off the boat.
On the boat itself I noticed a lot of bugs, like huge earwig type bugs and a big spider. One earwig even climbed onto my hand. I was attentive to where I sat and where my hands and feet were after that.
We then sailed round to the beach bit on the island, parked up and chilled out. It was quite dirty and the beach by the hotel is much nicer. I got a coconut and enjoyed the view.
Finally we went back to the main beach, I chilled and had another coconut curry.
Day 13 Yangon
Today I went to Yangon, and jumped on board a small quick plane. It took about 30 mins to get there, and once I arrived I got myself a taxi.
I decided to walk around downtown rather than head straight to the pagodas, and came across many interesting streets and indoor markets.
To get out of the sun, I found a garden near a pagoda and some British colonial buildings.
For dinner, I headed straight to China Town, infamous for it’s street food and BBQ. I headed straight to the 19th street, otherwise known as BBQ street. I had the most delicious ribs, chicken, chicken wing, okra, tofu, broccoli and prawn. I continued to walk around and came across some indian men making roti pancake things, it was absolutely delicious, just what I needed for dessert.
So much choice!
I had went back on the 19th street and had a drink on a balcony over looking the street. I then took a trip to a hotel which is a boat, called Vintage Yacht Hotel to check out the bathtubs at the bar!
Day 14 Yangon
I got a taxi driver to chauffeur me around for the day. Firstly I went to the Shwedagon Pagoda first, which is the oldest one in Yangon.
My taxi driver then took me to the reclining Buddha, I read that it is around 65ft long. Then I was taken across the road to the wooden Buddha.
Huge reclining Buddha
Finally I was taken to the Kandawygi Lake to see the floating pagoda, which is also on the Myanmar beer bottle branding. There were some restaurants, an awful ‘zoo’ and the pagoda wasn’t open until the evening, however I did find a really lovely walkway along the lake.
To get a taxi back to the hotel was difficult maybe because I’m a retard and couldn’t flag one down. When I do get one we are stuck in traffic for so long that I’m sweating.
I get back and head off to the BBQ spot again as it was so super delicious the day before. I get two ribs, two okra, two chicken, two tofu and one broccoli. The ribs aren’t as good but maybe I had too much food. Serious food coma! I think I did well for my final meal of the trip.